Athlete's Foot

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Know the basics

What is athlete’s foot?

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that usually occurs between the toes and side of the foot.

How common is athlete’s foot?

It is one of the most common fungal infection of the skin, usually found in people who have to wear tight, sweaty shoes. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of athlete’s foot?

Possible symptoms include red rashes and itching between the toes, a burning sensation, peeled and cracked skin. The specific signs may depend on the type of infection you have. Some types of athlete’s foot create blisters and ulcers while others establish chronic dryness that may be mistaken for eczema.

If you scratch or touch your toes, the infection can spread to your hands. It may also infect your nails, which is even more frustrating because nails are known to be resistant to treatment.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes athlete’s foot?

Athlete’s foot is caused by the fungal growth in the top layer of the skin. The fungi responsible for this condition prefer damp socks, wet shoes and the humidity between your toes. Because athlete’s foot is contagious, you can get it from an infected person or other contaminated objects such as towels, shoes, socks and even the floors.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for athlete’s foot?

There are two kinds of risk factors for athlete’s foot, such as:

Risk factors you cannot change:

  • You are male;
  • You have a family history of fungal infections;
  • You have a weak immune system;
  • You are living in a warm and damp climate;
  • You are the older adult.

Risk factors you can change:

  • Your feet are damp;
  • You wear tight, poorly ventilated shoes;
  • You use public showers or locker rooms without wearing shower shoes;
  • You join in some water activities for a long time.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is athlete’s foot diagnosed?

The doctor diagnoses your symptom by looking at your foot. Also, he or she will ask your symptoms and any previous fungal infections you have had.

If your symptoms are unusual or are not well to treatment, they can collect a skin or nail sample to examine by using laboratory tests such as KOH or fungal culture.

How is athlete’s foot treated?

In most cases, athlete’s foot can be treated with over-the-counter creams. If your condition does not improve, you may ask your doctor for a prescribed pills or medicine. It is important to keep your feet clean and dry all the time since fungi need humidity to grow.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage athlete’s foot?

Fortunately, there are measures you can take to avoid athlete’s foot. Besides keeping your feet dry, it is important to change your socks frequently, especially if you sweat a lot. Stop wearing shoes made from synthetic material and do not wear the same pair every day. Sharing shoes are not recommended, either. Never walk barefoot when you are in public places. If you have already got infected, you should treat it as soon as possible. Follow your doctor’s directions on how long to use topical treatment so that the fungi are completely killed.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: September 15, 2016 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019

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